Want to boost your property’s value before selling or leasing it, but strapped for cash?
You’d be amazed how much you can do yourself, even if you’re not exactly Tim the Toolman Taylor. Sure, you may not be knocking down walls or installing new HVAC systems, but you can add some serious value to your property with no experience and very little money.
Here are ten ways to get your hands dirty and whip your property into shape!
1. Replace the Front Door
According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, replacing your front door with a steel entry door is the second-highest ROI home repair you can make. It returns a whopping 90.7% of its cost in higher value when you go to sell… and that’s if you pay someone else to install it.
But why pay someone else to install a door? With a screw gun, some pizza, and a friend, you can replace a door on your own. All you need to buy is the door itself. And the pizza.
That means spending $200-400 on the door, instead of the average total cost of $1,413, and you’ll boost your home’s value by an average of $1,282. Not bad for a day’s work, eh?
2. Get Serious About Curb Appeal
One reason that upgrading the front door works so well is that prospective buyers and renters make up their mind within seconds of approaching your property.
That means that first impressions and curb appeal matter a lot. So what can you do to boost your curb appeal, and make a stellar first impression?
First of all, scrape and paint any surfaces with flaking paint. No brainer.
If your property has a front lawn, it should be trimmed, mowed and landscaped. Coiffed. Primped to perfection.
You can consider planting bushes, shrubs, trees, etc., but we’re trying to save money here, not splurge, so proceed with prudence.
One simple tactic is to add potted plants. This works whether your property is urban or rural; you can line the sidewalk or entryway for a cheap, easy win.
3. Powerwash the Siding
Along similar lines, make sure the siding is spotless. If you don’t own a power washer (and let’s face it most of us don’t) then rent or borrow one.
Your siding should positively sparkle with cleanliness. First impressions matter!
4. Clean It Spick & Span!
Speaking of sparkling, every part of the inside of your home should be flawlessly clean. That goes double for kitchens and bathrooms.
That doesn’t just mean mopping floors though. If you live in the property, it also means decluttering and depersonalizing it as much as possible. As my stepfather always says, “When in doubt, throw it out!”
Or sell it, donate it to a nonprofit, or give it to a friend or family member who could use it. Whatever “it” is.
Consumer Reports estimate that simply ensuring your home is clutter-free and spotlessly clean can boost home values by 3-5%. Talk about the easiest ROI win ever.
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5. Go Green & Smart for the Price of One
With a few cheap upgrades, you can market your property as a green home and a smart home. In many ways, green and smart home technologies have actually been merging toward one another for several years now.
Start with a smart thermostat. It costs about $200, reduces energy costs, and pays for itself within a year or so.
Then snag a smart security system that includes air quality monitoring. Once again, several birds are dropping with one stone here: boosting security, safety, smartness and it sounds eco-friendly.
And the coup de grace? Install new fiberglass attic insulation. Remember all the way back in Tip #1 when we mentioned that steel entry doors are the second-highest ROI home upgrade? Well, fiberglass attic insulation is the big kahuna. It’s also the only home upgrade with a positive return on investment, recovering 107.7% of its cost in higher home values.
Better yet, that figure includes the cost of paying someone else to install it for you. If you do it yourself, you’ll score an even higher ROI of several hundred percent.
Here are more smart home ideas if you want to make your property even smarter.
6. Polish & Refinish Those Hardwood Floors
When I was a kid my grandmother would hand me a pair of thick socks and a can of floor polish, and tell me to get dancing.
If your floors are scuffed and scraped, you can sand them first. If not, just clean them and start polishing! There’s nothing like gleaming hardwood floors that positively shine. You should be able to see your reflection in them!
And hey, conscript your children or grandchildren to help you out. Free labor for you, and “character building” for them – a win-win, right?
7. Give Your Kitchen a New Look
Kitchen renovations often slip into the five digits. People just can’t help themselves, they get excited and just spend-spend-spend.
That’s not what we’re talking about here.
I’m talking about simple DIY projects in your kitchen, to give it a new look without blowing $4,000 on new granite countertops.
If your cabinets are old, paint them. If your countertops are gnarly old Formica or cheap composite, replace them with a butcher’s block.
Or if replacing them is over your head, then just cover them with a butcher’s block.
Swap out the cabinet hardware. Replace the faucet. Cover the gross old laminate flooring with a giant throw rug. Get creative!
If your creativity needs further stimulation, here are more cheap kitchen and bathroom hacks you can do yourself.
8. Add Dimmer Switches to the Lights
Dimmer switches are cheap – about $15-40 apiece depending on style. And just as appealingly, you can swap them in yourself.
Read an article or two about how to not electrocute yourself, but it really is as simple as unscrewing the light switch plate, pulling out the electrical box, disconnecting wires from the old switch, and reconnecting them to the new switch.
Dimmer switches are a cheap, easy way to show off how “modern” your property is, and makes for a simple demonstration to elicit oohs and ahs from prospects as they walk through your property.
But seriously. Read an article or two beforehand or watch a YouTube video, so you don’t blame me if you fry off your eyebrows.
9. Take More Professional Photos
Rule #1: Don’t use your smartphone camera for your property listing photos. Borrow a real digital camera from your photography-buff friend.
Yeah yeah, I know, your phone camera has “just as high of a megapixel count!” as your friend’s camera. Megapixels actually don’t mean very much, in the grand scheme of photo quality, so stop objecting and just borrow a real camera.
Take photos in plentiful natural light, during peak daylight hours. Try low-angle shots, from crouching down, then hold the camera high for high-angle shots. Take eye-level shots, and shoot from the deep corners of each room to make it look larger.
Get multiple angles of the best rooms in the house. Include fewer photos of less impressive rooms.
Take your photos very, very seriously. They’re often the first thing that prospective buyers or renters see, when they come across your listing. (Further reading on listing photography tips and writing irresistible rental listings).
Better yet, just offer your photography-buff friend a six-pack of beer or a bottle of nice wine to come take photos herself of your property. Let her work her magic, so you don’t have to channel your inner Ansel Adams.
An oldie but goodie. Fresh paint can do wonders for any room, so grab a brush and have at it!
Pick neutral colors for most rooms. Only get more adventurous if you feel quite confident in your interior decorating ability. And that confidence has been validated by at least three reliable, unbiased sources!
Brighter, lighter colors tend to make most rooms look bigger and more welcoming that darker colors, but there are exceptions.
If you haven’t done much painting in your life, the cardinal skill is actually not painting, but taping. Be meticulous with your taping, so you don’t have to be a perfect painter.
And, of course, recruit help. Children, grandchildren, friends, family. Go heavy on the pizza and beer bribes. With enough people you can knock out an entire house in a day.
Just be sure to do all the taping before everyone dives too greedily into the beer.
Who Needs Huge Budgets, Anyway?
You don’t need a mammoth budget, or even much skill. I don’t know a hacksaw from a jigsaw puzzle.
These are all good entry-level projects, to build confidence and even more importantly, add value to your property’s sale price. All of the above projects will yield incredible return on investment – especially since you’re doing the work yourself!
Save some money on contractors and cleaners, get your hands dirty, and you’ll feel an incredible satisfaction afterward. And that’s before you even cash that plump, juicy check!
What repairs have you made yourself? Any DIY tales of glory (or horror)? Regale us!
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